Zagreb’s KHL Medveščak have proven their worthiness and have clinched a spot in the EBEL playoffs.
Despite a small setback last week when they lost to the bottom-dwelling HC Innsbruck, the Bears have been surging in the league and have been awarded a definite spot in the post season. They are now in the hunt for their first non-domestic league title.
The Erste Bank Hockey League playoff system consists of eight teams. The top six teams form one group and play a single round-robin to determine the standings in the playoffs, while the next six teams do the same to determine which two teams will join the other six in the playoffs.
Once the round-robin portion of the tournament is completed and the eight teams are set, they then take part in a best-of-seven, three round tournament. The eight teams open the tournament in the quarterfinals, then four advance to the semifinals, leaving the two winners to play in the finals.
Per the official league rules:
“The top 6 teams form a separate group and play a single round-robin to determine final standings for play-offs. Other teams form another group and play a single round-robin to determine two clubs who join top 6 for playoffs. Points from regular season do not count towards the intermediate stage. Bonus points (4, 3, 2, 1 etc.) are awarded based on standings after regular season.”
This format was introduced last season. Prior to that, the top eight teams were entered into the playoffs, and seeded accordingly to their regular season position.
The regular season ends January 20. The preliminary round-robin games go through January 22 and February 21, and the playoffs begin on February 24.
As expected, The Bear’s Dustin Jeffery will not be joining the club in their playoff run. He has since returned to Pittsburgh to rejoin his NHL club, the Penguins to participate in the abbreviated NHL season that will start on January 19 where he will take on the Philadelphia Flyers.
There is still plenty of goal-scoring ability on the bench for the Bears. Brandon Buck is the team leader in goals with 19 on the season thus far, and is closely followed by Kyle Greentree with 16, and Curtis Fraser and and Adam Miller with 12.
“We have a good team, a good group of players, we want to win and get titles, and we will fight for that, and I’m sure that we will ready when the playoffs come,” said head coach, Marty Raymond.
Win or lose, this will be the final season for Medveščak in the EBEL. They are slated to join Russia’s Continental Hockey League next season, which is widely regarded as the worlds second strongest ice hockey league.